There’s a petition going round to register Ilkley’s concern over the potential mothballing of the Manor House in Ilkley. Ilkley Gazette
For those who don’t know the Manor House is a museum and gallery used by the community for education, exhibitions and so on. Like many council run buildings the upkeep and challenges of making these spaces relevant to the local people is very challenging. Many of them lose money and in a difficult economy they can become neglected. But I suppose it’s all a matter of priorities. When families struggle to maintain a decent living, there are appalling poverty statistics, the elderly can’t get decent emergency services it’s not surprising that a museum in a wealthy neighbourhood is earmarked for closure.
One possibility is that a community group could take over the running of the building from the council. There is a trend for these asset transfers (I imagine this might be an option) which empower community groups to run these building. It makes sense in many ways that people in the neighbourhood have control over their own resources. The Woodhouse Community Centre, where I spend a couple of days a week, was handed over to the community on such a basis and has been transformed into a vibrant community hub.
I think the Manor House has not yet achieved its potential and that it could in the right hands. I don’t think the council should abandon it to the moths but should actively seek to find creative ways of involving the community in its development.
On the Friends of the Manor House website there is a link to a consultation feedback form on the council’s website which confused me. It’s a very poorly presented page which doesn’t give much guidance or context so as a consultation tool it doesn’t look too good.